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Too Good to Be True

The beginning of the good news about Jesus Christ,…The people were all so amazed.  Mark 1:1, 22a

A computer lease we were looking at “seemed too good to be true.”  It was.

We all know the feeling—something is so wondrous so great, so joyful,  that it just couldn’t be true.

Such things just don’t happen in a mixed-up, disappointing, sin and sorrow-filled world.  And that is exactly the feeling created in anyone who really begins to “breathe” the atmosphere of the New Testament.  The news about Jesus seems almost too good to be true.

To be sure, the watered-down version that many have heard from their youth up and which the church too often seems to teach isn’t so hard to believe.  This collection of religious sentiments somehow  (we’re not quite sure how) built around the person of Jesus who was a very good man, is not hard to believe and creates no feeling of wonder and amazement and certainly had little power to transform lives.  But the unedited biblical version is a different story.

Get this—Jesus is the Son of God.  Even the demons recognized they were not dealing with just another human being, exclaiming, “You are the holy one of God!”  As Jesus came to John for baptism in the Jordan river, there is an accreditation, an approval expressed by God the Father: “You are my son, and I am delighted in you.”  God among mortals!  And we think, “That’s too good to be true.”

But notice the impact Jesus had on those who heard him, those who walked with him, those outside as well as within his circle.  As they heard his teaching, saw him in action, it seems Mark “ransacked” the Greek dictionary trying to express their amazement, astonishment, wonder, awe in the presence of this person.  It’s too good to be true!

In what is said to be representative of a typical day in the life of Jesus, he casts out demons, heals Peter’s mother-in-law who was sick with a fever, reaches out to touch one legally untouchable and cures the incurable leper.  His loving compassion and power which heals, and his wisdom which enlightens are amazing.

Then it begins to dawn on us what the NT is trying to say, “that is what God is really like.”  This Jesus, whom the whole world looks to as the epitome, example of love, concern, the best in human kind, is what God is like!  He is not just a man but God among men!  It’s all too good to be true!

Just like the man who saw Jesus heal his son of a spirit which caused him to fall into the fire and go through horrible agony, when Jesus asks, “Do you believe?” responds, “I believe, help my unbelief.”  We begin to understand a little of what the man was trying to express.  I do believe! I want to believe! But it’s too good to be true!

While we’re trying to catch our breath, get our minds around the idea, “God is like this,” we are brought to our knees by the this: Jesus is one of us.  His life becomes a pattern for me/you.  As surely as Mark will not let us forget that this is God’s own son, so likewise he will not let us escape the fact that He was a real human being.

He sets the pattern for every true disciple (Jesus follower).  A decision to trust God, acceptance of a calling/mission and dedication to it, set the boundaries of life.  And with that, there is the equipment, power of the Holy Spirit descending on Him, to give Him the ability to perform the mission.  So, we make our choice, dedicate ourselves, and God fills us with His spirit and empowers us.  But we think, “it’s too good to be true.

In his powerful book, A Severe Mercy, Sheldon Vanauken tell how he and his wife, became Christians.

They considered themselves pagans.  They began by believing the Christian gospel had nothing to say to them. Over a period of time, Vanauken and his wife began to consider the meaning of the gospel.  Not taking that way easily, He said,

“we discovered much more than we had expected: The personality of Jesus emerged from the Gospels with astonishing consistency.  Whenever they were written, they were written in the shadow of a personality so tremendous that Christians who may never have seen him knew him utterly: that strange mixture of unbearable sternness and heartbreaking tenderness.

What was happening seemed to happening against his will.  But as he read and thought and talked with these Christians what seemed almost too good to be true was becoming harder and harder to escape.  Vanauken saw the issue and saw it clearly:

Christianity had come to seem to us probable.  It all hinged on this Jesus.  Was he, in fact, the Lord Messiah, the Holy one of Israel, the Christ?  Was he, indeed, the incarnate God?  Very God of very God?  This was the heart of the matter.  [Did] he rise from the dead?  The Apostles, the Evangelists, Paul believed it with utter conviction.  Could we believe on their belief?  Believe in a miracle?

He goes on to describe his growing excitement. As he began to think that it all might really be true, it began to dawn on him that the highest aspirations and deepest longings of his life came together at the person of Jesus Christ and the gospel.  And almost against his will he is driven to Jesus.

As he read the New Testament, the incredibly good news broke through—and hoping against hope, for it was just too good to be true: Vanauken them came to a turning point: “I could not go back….I had encountered Jesus….It was a question whether I was to accept Him—or reject.  (When I saw that) I could not reject Jesus.”

When you really meet the Christ in the pages  of the NT, the sheer excitement of it all makes it seem too good to be true.  Mark’s whole gospel is predicated on the conviction that once he tells you what Jesus did and said you will know who He is—God’s own son, but also one of us;  our savior but also our example.


If you do not know Him, you can invite Him into you life now. click here for how.

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